Monday, December 29, 2014

Life Post Workplace Abuse: Christmas - changing traditions

We've just passed Christmas -which is supposed to be the best day of the year.  And it probably is ... for some.  But for many people, it's a time of depression.  A time where losses are magnified.

As I walk through this post workplace abuse journey, everything has changed.  Nothing is the same as it was before.  Before injury.

In some ways, it is a good change.  I've learned the relationships that matter are those of family - and close friends.

I've learned to let go (more or less) of things.

I've started to learn how to change and adapt.

Part of the changes involve Christmas.

What used to be is gone.  We used to have a Christmas Eve Open House inviting family, friends of family, neighbours and anyone who didn't have a place to be on that night.  Our house may be small, but our heart room is big.

I'd spend the day - or even days - preparing appetizers, buying treats and then spreading everything out in both the kitchen and the living room.  People would gather just to talk and be together.  A low-key time of togetherness.  A good time.

All that changed, though, after the injury from the workplace.  I was no longer able to think, to plan, to read recipes.  I had no energy and no interest in anything.

That first Christmas post workplace abuse (2011), all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball in my bed and stay there through the holidays.

My sister stepped in to the rescue - kind of.  My mother's health was going downhill and she was afraid that this would be our mother's last Christmas (she was right).  So she wanted us all to be together - at her house.  It meant moving my children, grandchildren, son in love and our .5 (essentially everyone but the cat) to her house in ... well, since I live in Canada and she lives in the U.S. ... to a whole different country.  It involved three vehicles, three departure times and three arrival times.

As I've mentioned before, I had no interest or energy.  I just wanted to skip Christmas.  Forget about it.  But my family wouldn't hear of it and loaded my somewhat inert body into the car.

That become the first "homemade" Christmas.  The one where (almost) everyone's Christmas presents were made by my own hands.

Different from past Christmases certainly but memorable in its own way.  Enjoyable even.  Fraught with special memories - and pictures.  A time to remember.  A good time.  A bonding time.

Christmas of 2012 became known as the Charlie Brown Christmas in our house.  My mom had died.  I had psychiatric injury added to psychiatric injury.  And then I broke my arm.

I wasn't able to do anything either physically or mentally.  Drastic changes were necessary.

No Christmas tree.  No decorations. No Christmas Eve open house.  No big family dinner.  I ordered a plate of sandwiches and a veggie tray from a local supermarket.  The .5 came and we sat and watched Christmas movies all day.

One daughter opted to visit a friend in the States where she was welcomed with open arms and included as part of their celebrations and their family.  The other daughter complete with husband and children came later in the even for a put together supper.

Low key, but in its own way fun.  A time of closeness.  A time of bonding.  A time where being with each other was more important than all the trappings and former traditions.

The worst part was that with the broken arm, I could not knit or crochet.  I could not indulge in my right-brain therapy.  I could not make presents.  I was truly lost.

HOWEVER, I did have a few things I'd made before I broke the arm - including the cowl pictured above on my daughter's head.

AND I did find a way - a totally different way - to make presents.  I bought each one a digital photo frame and uploaded photos pertinent to each child from my collection.  Doing it left-handed was a challenge, but I was happy with the end result.  Memories captured and shared.

Once again, for the second year in a row, we had the main Christmas meal at someone else's house.  Much closer to ours than my sister's.  My daughter's mother-in-law included us as part of the family.

And it was good.

 Christmas 2013.  The second "Charlie Brown" Christmas.  Still very low-keyed.  Still no fancy decorated Christmas tree or decorations.

Starting to come alive again, but still no energy.  No spark.  Limited sparkle.  (At least I didn't have a cast on my arm this year.)

I gave up on Christmas shopping entirely last year.  Our Christmas gifts became time/memories rather than things.

We gifted the grands with what we call a "memory trip" - a carriage ride at Niagara on the Lake.  Their parents got a kid-free day - just for them.

Although still very limited, I was able to start thinking in terms of new traditions.  Since the Christmas Eve Open House is now a thing of the past, a victim of the injuries caused by workplace abuse, I wanted to start something different, something low key, something we would enjoy together but would not deplete my limited energy reserves.

So I came up with a Christmas Eve bonfire.  Just close family.  No appetizers.  No days spent cooking.  Chips, hot chocolate in the crockpot, hot dogs, etc.  Family time.

For the third year in a row, we spent the main meal being invited guests - this time out in the country to my husband's brother - where I took the picture of horse and buggy Mennonites travelling to their Christmas get-together.

In the evening, the family gathered together.
 When we've suffered losses, when our situation has changed drastically, when we're no longer the same person we once were, live can still be not only liveable but good.  In it's own way.

A belated Merry Christmas from my house to yours ....

Until (hopefully) tomorrow.

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